Youth Opportunity for Kokanee Salmon at Lake Nighthorse

Kokanee salmon are a landlocked fish; they don’t migrate to the ocean as their Sockeye salmon relatives. In Colorado, these silver-colored salmon spend the majority of their short lives in lakes until they reach 3- to 5-years of age and spawning season arrives.

Anglers, eagles, bears and other fish lovers enjoy kokanee spawning season because that’s when the silver-colored fish turn a bright red. Ordinarlilly, fishing for kokanee can be a challenge, but during this time, the fish are easier to spot, and at some lakes, this time of year is known as “Salmon snagging season.”

Snagging isn’t allowed at Lake Nighthorse. However, for those who have youngsters in the family and would like to have tasty freshwater fish for dinner, grab a cooler and head to the boat ramp on the dates listed below. You might be lucky enough to receive some of the fresh kokanee that the Colorado Parks and Wildlire staff collects.

Following spawning operations, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will conduct giveaway days for kokanee salmon at Lake Nighthorse in Durango

Kokanee Salmon Giveaways Coming to Lake Nighthorse

DURANGO, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has kokanee salmon giveaway days planned following spawning operations at Lake Nighthorse in Durango

CPW will conduct three giveaways at the boat ramp at Lake Nighthorse at 3 p.m. Nov. 5, 12 and 19. Parking will begin no earlier than 2 p.m. each day. The giveaways will start promptly at 3 p.m.

To be eligible for the giveaway, a 2021 Colorado fishing license must be presented. Up to four youth may receive kokanee if accompanied by a license-holding adult.

Fish quantities for the giveaway will be determined by the number of kokanee collected by CPW staff during spawning as well as the number of people in line.

Those interested in receiving kokanee should bring their own small cooler or other containers. Most of the kokanee are 10 to 13 inches in size.

Kokanee are freshwater, land-locked Pacific sockeye salmon. Though not a native fish to Colorado, they are well suited to Colorado’s large reservoirs. 

Anglers are reminded that snagging kokanee at Lake Nighthorse is prohibited. Those fishing at the reservoir must stay at least 100 yards from the salmon-spawning platform.

For more information and for details on legal snagging of kokanee across Colorado, go to:

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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and a range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to outdoors, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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